Across America

"SUQUAMISH - At first, Colin McDonald wasn't sure about the senior trip his older brother Ross suggested. Colin, who is now 19, was about to graduate from North Kitsap High School, and his brother kept talking about this trip, a bike ride. But Colin was hesitant. I said no, he said. Then after that I said nothing, then at Christmas, our aunt bought us some tents. The boys' mother, Bethany McDonald, explains, The family had invested in it. So Colin agreed, and the boys starting planning for this trip: a bike ride across the United States. It seemed like a fun ride, Ross, 21, said. He graduated from Western Washington University and will begin graduate studies at the University of Washington in the fall. I had been at school a long time, and wanted something to do before I returned for more schooling. The trip, which was to wind through the northern United States, soon became a family affair in more ways than one. "

“SUQUAMISH – At first, Colin McDonald wasn’t sure about the senior trip his older brother Ross suggested. Colin, who is now 19, was about to graduate from North Kitsap High School, and his brother kept talking about this trip, a bike ride. But Colin was hesitant. I said no, he said. Then after that I said nothing, then at Christmas, our aunt bought us some tents. The boys’ mother, Bethany McDonald, explains, The family had invested in it. So Colin agreed, and the boys starting planning for this trip: a bike ride across the United States. It seemed like a fun ride, Ross, 21, said. He graduated from Western Washington University and will begin graduate studies at the University of Washington in the fall. I had been at school a long time, and wanted something to do before I returned for more schooling. The trip, which was to wind through the northern United States, soon became a family affair in more ways than one. When we started planning for it, everyone had different ideas of what the trip should be. We drew all sorts of maps. Colin said. Colin and Ross assembled a list of sights they wanted to see. They wanted to stop in Michigan, Boston, and Rhode Island, where they had relatives. They wanted to see Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. The Black Hills, Mount Rushmore, and Crazy Horse monument were also on the list. They didn’t waste any time getting to those places, either. Colin went from wearing a cap and tassel to a bicycle helmet in hours, and the boys took off on their bicycles the day he graduated from NKHS, June 18. The night before they left, Ross and Colin got a hint of how tough, and how beautiful, the trip would be. A relative, running a finger across the map, came across the Grand Teton mountains, which the two brothers were going to ride across. Do you have any idea how big these are? The man asked of the mountains. The first day they rode to Issaquah. An aunt accompanied them and helped then navigate Seattle. In the coming weeks and months, that 30 miles would look more and more like a warmup to Ross and Colin. I rode to school, Colin said. I had done recreational riding, Ross said. I hadn’t done anything close to this. The second day, heading east, Ross and Colin rode 60 miles, doubling their first day’s distance. On the third day they topped 100 miles. Eventually, Colin said, Seventy-five (miles) would be a short day. This was their first long-distance trip. A bigger challenge than the distance was the logistics of bicycling and camping your way across the U.S., he said. The big challenge was things like, what food do we buy? he said. The boys eventually rode through hills and forests, climbed mountains, and pedaled for miles on flatlands. They made their way through Washington, Idaho and Wyoming, then made their way to South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. After stopping with family in Michigan, they crossed into Ontario, then crossed back at Niagara Falls and finished the trip by passing through Connecticut into Rhode Island. As they made their way across the country, Ross and Colin were helped by the weather. The weather was very, very nice, Ross said. We had showers, and a couple of days of rain, but after that it was okay. We had more problems with the heat. As the brothers rode into unusual territory (Everything after Idaho was new Colin said), they found hospitality. People were real friendly, Colin said. Especially in Wyoming and North Dakota. That was most evident, both boys added, on the final day of trip, riding into Newport, Rhode Island, where they had family waiting for them. After 4,000 miles, they just wanted to make it to the relative’s home, but it was growing late, and dark, and the boys were approaching a bridge bicyclists weren’t allowed to ride across. They would have to carry the bikes, an exhausting proposition. Instead of having to make that final leg, Ross and Colin were stopped by some strangers, who ended up offering the boys a steak dinner. They also let them shower at their home, and drove them to the relative’s house. We were just taken care of by some really nice strangers, said Colin. Across the country, both boys say, they found something besides hospitality: beautiful scenery, and diversity. It was very rare to to have two days and ride through the same kind of scenery, Colin said. Ross agrees. Every day it was a change of scene, he said. He expected the midwest to be flat and boring, he said, but instead found it beautiful. The boys spent a week with relatives in Rhode Island. The trip back to Washington State was a little easier for them than the trip to the east coast. They took a plane back. “

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